In January 2018, a new law regarding expungements goes into effect. That’s good news for many who live and work in Missouri. Many people, however, are unfamiliar with what an expungement actually is. Expungement is a process where criminal records are sealed. Anyone arrested or charged with a crime has a criminal record.
Each state has its own law on what crimes can be expunged and when. Currently, in the state of Missouri, felonies can be expunged after 20 years and misdemeanors can be expunged after 10. The new law, however, is changing that.
What are the new changes?
The new law allows expungements to be made in a more timely manner. Felonies will be eligible for expungement after seven years, misdemeanors after three. Dan Viets, who works as a coordinator for National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws states that the law will help many people wipe out offenses that have significantly affected their lives.
Speaking with Riverfronttimes.com, he stated, “This law will allow many thousands of people who have a marijuana conviction on their public records to escape the lifelong disabilities such a conviction has caused in the past."
Why was the law changed?
Previous laws regarding expungement were cumbersome and often affected people for many years after conviction. Rental and job applicants were routinely denied opportunities because of criminal records that were sometimes over a decade old, with no further infractions on the part of the individual. This kept many people from moving on and establishing a new future, and is antithetical to the idea of rehabilitation.
As a result, the legislature adopted new rules that will allow those with criminal records to move on to a new life sooner, rather than later. Those with criminal records who are planning on taking advantage of the new law should contact an attorney now. Court dockets always have a significant wait time, and the new law is expected to delay court calendars even farther.